McCain joins opposition to Arizona's religion-gay rights bill

Feb. 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM
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PHOENIX, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill allowing businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians on grounds of religious objection.

The bill, SB1062 -- promoted as providing protections to business owners with strongly held religious beliefs -- triggered a national backlash from gay rights supporters.

McCain posted a message on his Twitter account Monday, calling for a veto, the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star reported. McCain joins a growing number of Republican legislators and business owners asking Brewer to reject the bill, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake and state Sen. Steve Pierce, who voted in favor of it last week.

"I screwed up. I'm trying to make it right," Pierce told Capitol Media Services.

Existing state laws allows businesses to claim exemption from state statures or regulations because of "sincerely held" religious beliefs. The law under consideration would extend that exception to situations in which a business owner is sued by someone denied service, including gay customers.

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and industry, called the bill bad for business Sunday.

Kristin Jarnagin, vice president of the Arizona Lodging and tourism association, noted the state has "already lost untold amounts of tax dollars due to the negative perception that the legislation attaches to our state's image, and it hasn't even been signed into law yet."

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